||Established as a U.S. Army training camp in 1940, Camp Barkeley (whose main entrance was about seven miles south of this site) became one of the nation's largest World War II military training bases. The 12th Armored Division, activated at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, in September 1942, was assigned to Camp Barkeley in November 1943. By April 1944 the manpower of the division was at peak strength with combat commands, three battalions each of tanks, armored infantry, and armored field artillery, and numerous support units. Intensive day and night training at the camp culminated in tests that qualified the division for combat. Camp Barkeley's population was more than twice that of the city of Abilene. Soldiers' families became a part of the community and many returned here to live.
The last combat division stationed at Camp Barkeley, the 12th Armored shipped out to Europe in September 1944. The division, nicknamed "Hellcats" and dubbed "The Mystery Division" in General George S. Patton, Jr.'s historic drive to the Rhine River, served with distinction, receiving more than 800 battle decorations. A dominating presence in Abilene during the war, Camp Berkeley was deactivated on April 1, 1945.